A wave of sport will sweep through the whole of Europe this summer as the Euro 2004 and Olympics Games are to be held in Portugal and Greece respectively. Many Christian outreaches have regarded this as a great opportunity to spread the Gospel. Several European United Bible Societies - Portugal, Spain, Greece, France and Scotland - have prepared to catch the sports fans as they come into events.
While thousands of football fans gather in the Capital of Portugal, Lisbon, for Europe’s quadrennial football fiesta, the Bible Society of Portugal will be publishing a Sports New Testament, named +além ('A bit further'), on behalf of the Evangelical Alliance of Portugal, the European Christian Sports Union, and Movimento Desportivo Internacional, a Christian sports ministry agency. It is actually a newly revised Portuguese translation version with extra color sections containing testimonies of Christian sports stars.
With a design that does not heavily tie to Euro 2004 and a wide range of testimonies is not limited to football players, the society will be able to use it after the football match ends. More than 115,000 copies will be distributed during the competition.
For the Greek Bible Society, a Bible exhibition, entitled The Bible: the Contest of Hope, will be held in Volos where football matches are being held. It opens on July 27 and runs until the end of October.
The Society has prepared three special publications for the Centennial Olympic Games in August. The three publications are as follows:
- The Apostle Paul in Greece
This contains a portion of Acts in 11 languages including Greek, English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Korean, Chinese and Japanese. It will be distributed free by all the mainstream Christian denominations, marking the first time that Orthodox, Evangelicals, and Catholics in Greece have shared a common resource. 50,000 copies have been printed.
- New Testament in English (Good News translation)
20,000 free copies are going to be distributed by chaplains working in the Olympic athletes' village.
- New Testament (Today's Greek Version)
7,000 copies are available for sale at a price of €5.00.
In the coming World Association of Christian Surfers Conference in September, the host country, France is taking the opportunity to produce a special edition of the New Testament with color pictures, testimonies and daily Bible readings.
The French Bible Society plans to produce at least 5,000 copies for the churches and organizations, especially those involved in the Christian Sports Ministry. The Society is looking for donors or partners to cover the major part of the costs.
Also in collaboration with the Christian ministry Sport Outreach Scotland, the Scottish Bible Society has chosen the year of the Olympics to produce a sports New Testament in the form of color magazine called “nt:sports?E The magazine incorporates the New Living Translation and a mix of spiritual and sport-based articles.
nt:sports is aimed at the sports fans of all ages but particularly young people. In the view of reaching people in Scotland at the lower end of the income scale, the Priority Area Fund will provide special subsidies on these Scriptures, so that the message can reach parts of society that orthodox Bibles cannot reach.
Writing in the latest edition of the Scottish Bible Society's magazine Word at Work, General Secretary the Rev Doug Campbell describes it as "a fresh tool for Christians in Scotland to use in sharing God's message with sport followers."